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I Forge Iron

George N. M.

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Laramie, Wyoming
  • Interests
    Blacksmthing, camping, hiking, historical reenactment

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  1. I agree with Lee that the first thing you should look at is your drinking water (Occam's Razor). Drinking water has been the source for many unexpected environmental pollutants. Fumes from welding rods may cause problems. I do not know enough about the coatings to say one way or another but I certainly would only use rods from a reputable manufacturer rather than some unknown and unregulated source that may play fast and loose with quality control. Also, you may be more sensitive to certain things than the average person. Humans vary in their tolerances to various things in the environment. Think how much variance there is in allergies. Good luck and make sure you approach the problem with reputable professionals. We're just a bunch of black smiths. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  2. He needs to be aware that skinning and defleshing hides of different species is very different. Generally, the larger the animal the tougher the hide. The toughest and thickest I have ever done is a buffalo and that was a job. Also, that big and thick a hide is very heavy. I've never done a cow or horse but they could be formidable too. I suspect that a defleshing knife for a large animal would ideally be longer and have a shallower curve than one for a smaller critter. Just speculating. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  3. The main reasons I went with LED lights in my shop is lots of lumens and they are not affected by cold weather. The latter is a significant issue during much of the year at 7500' in Wyoming. Probably not so much in NZ. Also, the fixtures were reasonably priced at the Walmart which is 4 minutes away. The nearest Home Depot or Lowes are in Cheyenne, about 45 minutes away and the nearest Harbor Freight is in Ft. Collins, CO, about an hour away. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  4. Dear Apple, Given the numbers you provided you would be paying about $US 2.93/kg for propane. My supplier, for refills, charges $US 3.29/US gallon or $US 1.71/kg. (And assuming I did all the conversions correctly ;-)) There may be differences in availability and costs between the UK and the US. In the US propane is used for heating and cooking in rural areas that do not have access to natural gas and for barbeque grills, usually in 20 pound tanks, and on trailers (caravans). It is sold in bulk/refills by propane dealers, farm stores, and some hardware stores and lumber yards. There are also exchange stations at many convenience stores, super markets, and even large drug stores. It is always much more expensive to exchange tanks than it is to refill. While the internet is a good place to do initial research you really need to actually contact people to get the information you need. Either telephone calls or, better yet, on your bike and make personal contact. I realize that for some in the younger generation it seems weird to get info except from a screen but doing it the old fashioned analog way is surprisingly effective. How much you will use depends on the size of your forge. Without knowing more its like asking what the mileage will be for a car you haven't looked at yet. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  5. PhDf, I just got back into town after being gone a few days. I will measure the heights tomorrow and post them. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  6. A few more thoughts about how much to charge: 1. As I said earlier time is your one consumable that cannot be replaced. So, you need to consider how much that resource is worth to you. A younger person may feel that they have a nearly unlimited balance in their time account. Us older folk know that the account is limited and that sooner or later it will be exhausted. 2. Ultimately, we are doing this because it results in something that we like. For some people smithing is the means to the end of acquiring money. Money enables you to do things you like, such as eating or supporting your family or buying things you desire (beer, art, fast cars, chocolate, etc.). Or, it may be the satisfaction of creating something beautiful or useful. In that case the money is a secondary benefit. Or, producing something unique and transferring it to someone who appreciates it can be a real ego boost. I will admit that have people appreciate my work is something that makes me feel good and can be a real motivator. Along those lines, if I am at a craft fair, say, and I sell 10 $15 items it will give me more pleasure to get things into 10 different hands than selling 1 $150 item. I always try to have some nice, but inexpensive, for folk (often kids) who have a limited budget. I suppose it has something to do with contributing to the net happiness in the world. The 10 $15 items have given pleasure to 10 people and the 1 $150 item has given that pleasure to only 1 individual. I don't think the more expensive item has given 10 times as much pleasure to either the buyer or me. 3. Something to factor in is how much pleasure or satisfaction the smith will get out of making a particular object or multiples of an object. I have a fairly low boredom threshold and don't like making a large number of the same item. Years ago I took and filled an order for 500 hand forged nails and I still hate making nails and only do them when I have to. It paid acceptably well but the aggravation factor was very high by the end of the job. I can't think of another job with which I was happier to be done. The same can be true at the high end of the craft when you may be doing a big job for a difficult customer. I know smiths who will put a jerk surcharge on any job for certain customers. 4. You need to feel that you have neither taken advantage of someone nor have been taken advantage of yourself. A fair price for a fair job benefits everyone. If you feel like you have taken more money for an item and do that regularly it will corrode your soul. Similarly, if you feel you have been taken advantage of or have sold yourself short it is not a good feeling and you have no satisfaction. So, at the end of the day you need to charge and receive what makes you happy, money, satisfaction, or any other reward that comes from the craft and balance all those out so that it stays fun and you want to get up tomorrow and do it again. Keep in mind that money is only one possible reward. Everyone has their own balance of costs and benefits and neither the costs nor the benefits can all be reduced to a balance sheet. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  7. As background, I am a hobby smith and have usually had an outside income to support the hobby. However, many years ago when I was between being a geologist and going to law school I supported myself with my blacksmithing. I didn't make much more than unemployment paid but it felt a lot better. I have said this before but I will repeat it here that I believe that at the end of the day all we really have to sell is our time and expertise (plus overhead in fuel, metal, utilities, etc.). So, overhead aside, I price my work by how much time I have in it. I set my hourly rate based on what I feel my level of expertise is and then assign a price to an item based on how long it takes me to make it once I have gotten a reasonable level of expertise and efficiency in making the item. For example, if I were to decide my time is worth $60/hour and a bottle opener takes me 15 minutes to make the price is $15. This is an approximation and subject to adjustment depending on circumstances. Sometimes I will bump the price up if I feel that the market will bear it and sometimes I reduce it if I don't think something will sell at a strict time price. This scheme has worked for me for many years and I am happy with it. However, different approaches will work for different folk. A hobbyist will want to pay for the expenses of the craft plus some more but a person who is paying a mortgage and supporting his or her family with their craft may have to use a more rigorous approach. BTW, one way of looking at what to charge per hour is to multiply by 2,080. That is the number of working hours in a year assuming a 40 hour work week. So, $25/hour equals $52,000/year. Whether that looks good or fair to anyone depends on their circumstances. To some, it will look like LOTS of money, to others, not so much. There are lots of assumptions in that equation and it does not account for any time that is not actually making things that will sell. The main reason I use this technique is that time is the only thing which we have a finite amount of in this life. Once it is gone it is never coming back. Every minute or hour of time represents a fraction of our lives and IMO that is the most valuable thing we have. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  8. PhDf, I have never heard of any rule of thumb for the height of a forge other than what seems comfortable for each individual. My 2 solid fuel forges are at the height they were manufactured a century or more ago and they seem to work well for me at 6'2". I mounted my propane forge rather higher, about lower chest height, so that I didn't have to bend over very far to look into it. I would say that a hand cranked blower should be high enough so that you don't have to bend over to keep your hand on the crank handle at the bottom of its stroke. I agree that a hand crank blower gives better fire control than an electric blower, even with a rheostat adjustable control on the blower. Some folk like them and some have shoulder or arm problems that preclude a hand crank but that is what I learned on and what is most comfortable for me. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  9. Back in my geologist days I was always careful to store uranium ore samples in a closet down the hall and not in a box by my feet under my desk. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  10. January 30th, the date of his execution in 1649. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  11. Coincidentally, for many years I attended the Episcopal Church of St. Charles the Martyr, aka King Charles II, one of the more obscure Episcopalian Saints, in Ft. Morgan, CO. The story goes that the parish was originally named St. Paul's (there are an amazing number of St. Paul's parishes in the Episcopal Church) and when a new church was built in the 1950s the Priest wanted and got a new and unique saint and name. There are a few other St. Charles parishes around but IIRC fewer than a half dozen. So, I guess that makes me tend more Royalist than Parliamentarian. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  12. John, to pick a historical nit, Elizabeth I lived from 1533-1603 but reigned from 1558-1603 and Victoria lived from 1819-1901 but reigned from 1837-1901. The Georgian Era is probably more comparable with the Tudor Era (1485-1603) or the Stuart Period (1603-1714) than to the reign of an individual monarch within those time periods. A small quibble, to be sure, but I am feeling picky this evening. ;-) "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  13. Here is a link to a new BBC article about a new crinoid/echinoderm discovery in the UK with lots of good info about the critters: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-57853537 "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  14. Naturally occurring radiation can come from many different sources including, as PB says, scale from produced water in oil field production, radon gas (a decay product of radium/uranium), various rocks, and solar radiation, which as Thomas points out, increases with altitude. Geography plays a major part in how much radiation a person may be exposed to and it is not as controlled by geology as one might think. The Gulf of Mexico area around New Orleans has much higher radiation for produced water than many other oil and gas producing areas and a strip running north-south through Minnesota and Iowa has the highest concentration of radon of anywhere in the country. Uranium will bind up with carbon resulting in, as Thomas mentioned, coal often being more radioactive than surrounding rocks. There are dinosaur bones here in Wyoming that are "hot" because of uranium concentrating in the bones. There is a small building near Como Bluff, a famous dinosaur quarry site, north of Laramie that is built out of dinosaur bones and is "hot" enough and has enough radon concentration that it is unfit for humans. It used to be a gift shop. Radioactivity is just one of those things in the environment that person should be aware of and should avoid unnecessary exposure but be aware that all exposure cannot be eliminated. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
  15. Although fossil crinoids look a lot like plants, they are actually animals. They are echinoderms which are related to starfish and sea urchins. They all have a 5-fold symmetry. Some of the modern crinoids are not fixed ("sessile") but can swim around. "By hammer and hand all arts do stand."
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